Monthly Archives: November 2014

Guest post on Mumsnet and Udemy course launch

Well it’s been a busy and happy week here in the HOF household.  Last week Mumsnet approached me to write a guest blog post for them as it is Alcohol Awareness Week here in the UK and it’s titled ‘The moment I knew I had to give up drinking’ and you can read it here.

Plus I’ve mentioned that I’ve been busy working on something that I would tell you about when it was ready.  Well it’s ready and the sharp eyed amongst you may have noticed the new image that has appeared to the right of this post that looks like this:


If you click on it (and I’m sure some of you probably already have) it will take you to my new course hosted on a platform called Udemy.  The course title is the same as my blog: A Hangover Free Life and here’s what it says on Udemy about the course:

Since I stopped drinking in September 2013 I have saved over £2500, lost 10lbs in weight and any symptoms of anxiety or depression have all but gone. Life is better in every way!

Before we stop, we think quitting drinking will be impossible and too hard, so we decide not to even try, but this course will give you all the information and tools to make it possible. There are presentations, an e-book, hand-outs and online resources for you to use. The course is designed to be completed in 3-4 hours but deciding to change your relationship with alcohol, and changing it, can be a process which takes some time and as this course gives you lifetime access it will be there for you as long as you need it.

It looks at ways to cut down through moderation, gives you the structure and time to reflect on your drinking while thinking about stopping or preparing to stop.

It gives you knowledge about the impact that alcohol has physically and emotionally and the skills to manage life alcohol free. Then once you are living hangover free tools are provided to ensure that you can stay that way as long as you wish.

It gives supportive resources in terms of books, films and online communities. A one on one support consultation via email, telephone or Skype is also included in this course should you wish to take advantage of it.

This course is for you if you want to look at your relationship with booze and want to change it, be that temporarily or permanently. What have you got to lose? You can always go back to drinking if you change your mind. Although you might find, like me, that life is so much better without it that you’d rather stay hangover free. Enroll now!

If you want to go take a look and view the free preview materials then you can do so here:

Udemy is sharing a promotional offer in the run up to Black Friday and I’d like for you to be able to take advantage of this.  The course is listed as $49 but if you click on the image to the right and sign up before Saturday 29th November you’ll get the course for only $10!  As this is a new feature and I want to ensure you access the savings – you can click HERE also.

As a valued reader of my blog I would greatly appreciate your feedback on email at if you have any recommendations for changes or improvements to the course.  If you sign up and think it’s great just the way it is then a review on Udemy would be fabulous!

I’ve found since I stopped drinking that you can never have too much support or too many tools in your sober toolbox.  For the price of a sober treat if you’re living alcohol free, or a bottle of wine if you’re drinking, lifetime access to this course can be yours today.  I hope you’ll join me on the course and we get to talk one on one soon 🙂

I’d love to hear what you think about the guest post and the Udemy course!



Alcohol Concern Conference

This morning’s post will be brief as I’ve scheduled my full one to be published this evening with some exciting news to share!

Yesterday I attended the Alcohol Concern Conference in London which was an excellent day.  So many brilliant speakers including Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Professor Linda Bauld and Gabrielle Weller & Arthur Cauty  showing clips and discussing ‘A Royal Hangover‘.

There was representation from both the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition govt and Labour party speaking also, and I have to say I was underwhelmed by the major political parties future direction on alcohol policy.  It felt like they said the right things but I wasn’t entirely convinced about the strength of political will to tackle the issue we have in this country with this drug and it’s impact on our children, our health and society more widely through public health.  It’s a general election next year so time will tell.

The alcohol industry were also present, Diageo mainly  …….

I learned a great deal and there will be several blog posts to follow to share that knowledge here which means next week will see more daily posts until I’ve exhausted the subject for the moment! 😉

Check back later for another post today! 🙂


Passive Drinking

A really excellent Campaign Launch Report was shared by Drinkwise recently called ‘Alcohol and Childhood Don’t Mix’ and you can see the full report here and you can find their website at:

It opens with “this investigation uncovers a shocking truth – we are failing to protect our children from the negative consequences of alcohol.”
I was really struck by some of the statistics in this report, some I’ll discuss here and one other set deserve a blog post of their own.
These statistics relate to the impact of other people’s drinking on children:
  • 8% neglected or not well looked after
  • 8% missed school
  • 6% mentally affected
  • 12% anxious, upset or worried
  • 2% missed health appointments
  • 5% missed leisure activities
  • 3% in physical danger

They may seem small numbers but children are dependent on adults for their physical and emotional health and well-being and so are not able to be responsible for themselves.  Plus a report by the children’s commissioner has found that social services support for alcohol misuse is failing to look beyond the impact on the individual.

Joanna Manning, national lead on substance misuse for The Children’s Society, said: “Children and young people are suffering the impact of their parents’ drinking for a long time before it comes to the notice of the authorities – if at all. Even then, the routes to help and the services available are ad hoc and vary across the country.

“Local authorities tend to focus on young people’s own drinking without consideration that it might be learnt or normalised behaviour from their parents. Equally, not enough is being done to address and support parents who drink, in order to reduce the impact upon children and families.”

Statistics relating to drinking patterns and behaviours of 14-17 year olds who drink alcohol:

  • 72% think that getting drunk is fun
  • 57% believe that it is normal to get drunk
  • 40% are not worried about the long term health effects
  • 54% binge drink
  • 37% drink just to get drunk
Underpinning these trends is a surprising connection from very young children to the adult drinking world, and also misperceptions about what level of alcohol consumption is “normal”. A survey of 9-11 year-olds showed that 3-in-5 think it is normal to drink to forget your problems, 27% think beer drinkers consume 4-6 pints in an evening and 30% think wine drinkers drink 5 or more glasses a night.
Plus the impact of living in a home where alcohol abuse is an issue can last a lifetime. And the behaviours unfortunately can be self-perpetuating as reflected in these statistics:
  • 30+ sexual partners:  3.6 times more likely
  • Sexually transmitted diseases: 2.5 times more likely
  • Anxiety: 2.5 times more likely
  • Severe obesity: 1.9 times more likely
  • Current smoker: 1.8 times more likely
  • Alcoholism: 7.2 times more likely
  • Perpetrating partner violence: 2.5 times more likely
‘Passive drinking kills. It causes family breakdown and violent crime. It costs the economy billions of pounds.  It causes misery. It affects many spheres of life and leaves no communities untouched.’
Sir Liam Donaldson, 2009 CMO Report

Do you worry about having a hangover in the week or not?

I was recently approached by Adam at Voucher Codes Pro and was happy to share the results of a poll they conducted.

Voucher Codes Pro decided to conduct a poll asking 1,673 working UK adults, aged 18-40 years old, from all over the country whether they worried about suffering a hangover during the week or not?

The participants were of an even gender split of males and females, with the results revealing some surprising information.

When questioned how many times a week during Monday to Friday does each individual enjoy an alcoholic drink, more than half (57%) said they drank twice a week.

However, interestingly nearly a third (32%) would go out on a weekday, with others (68%) opting to drink at home. Of these participants, the majority (65%) would regularly go into work the following day with a hangover, while shockingly nearly a quarter of these (23%) were also sick during office hours.

When asked for their reasons for drinking on a weekday, even with work looming the following morning, the most popular answers were as follows:

  1. To let off steam after work – (32%)
  2. To help break up the week – (28%)
  3. Boredom – (21%)
  4. To celebrate an occasion – (15%)
  5. Lack of responsibility – (4%)


Taking a closer look into the results, the polls also revealed that just under half (46%) of those that had suffered a hangover the following morning, resulted in them calling in sick and taking the day off.

Interestingly, results suggested it was mainly (74%) males that found going to work with a hangover was too much to deal with. Could this kind of self-inflicted behaviour be contributing to the UK’s wide scale problems concerning the increasing number of sick days taken by staff? 

stages of a hangover

You can read the full article here

I particularly like the hangover model which mirrors the Kubler Ross grief cycle which I have talked about in a previous post.  It also accurately represents how my hangovers used to feel too which reminds me of why I stopped! 😉  If this is how you are feeling today as you overdid it last night why not give yourself a break?

Middle-aged sofa boozers

This news piece was in The Telegraph last month.

The home drinking celebrated by Gogglebox’s poshest couple is par for the course on the sofas of Britain’s ‘self-medicating’ middle classes.

Every time I visit my local Co-op in north Cambridge, they ask for my loyalty card. At which point – if I can muster sufficient energy – I explain that I don’t have any such card, because then the consumer research bods would track my alcohol expenditure and place a large exclamation mark by my address. I’d swiftly become part of the booming statistic – the strawberry-nosed cliché – that forms the middle-class drinking epidemic.

I don’t often feel part of a social trend, but as soon as I read this week’s research on UK drinking habits, I saw my household reflected back at me. A study by the Grocer magazine suggests the average spend on alcohol, from supermarkets and off-licences, has risen to almost £500 a year; an increase of 3.3 per cent on the previous year.

The 'posh couple' from Googlebox
The ‘posh couple’ from Googlebox

The report says home boozing has become so habitual that drinkers increasingly resemble “the posh couple” from Channel 4’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Gogglebox – otherwise known as Stephanie and Dom Parker, from Sandwich in Kent. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of watching people as they watch TV, the Parkers perch on a plush sofa nursing giant tumblers of G&T or balloon-glasses of wine, getting ever more slurred as they critique the week’s viewing. It seems the twosome have become popular not because viewers are incredulous that one couple could drink and drone and watch so much terrible television, but because they recognise those traits in themselves.

I phoned a GP friend based in the Home Counties to see what she made of the research and she readily confirmed her waiting room was full of middle-aged sofa boozers. She said the casual sharing “of a bottle or two a night” is almost always worse for the woman, whose slighter body can’t process alcohol as readily as her spouse’s. “Little and often, the drip-drip effect, can mean liver damage creeps up on someone who might not even get more than relaxed of an evening.” And she cautioned that regular nightly imbibing is more damaging to the liver than the occasional binge.

And if you’re watching telly in an exhausted stupor, rather than chatting, you pour your refill ever quicker. It’s behaviour that my GP friend characterises as “self-medicating” and no wonder. Increasing numbers of stressed professionals (and men in particular) report they can’t sleep without downing several glasses of wine.

And those measures are rarely the delicate goblets of our parents’ age. No, they’re the great big balloons intended for swirling modest amounts of decent wine. Instead we fill them to the brim.

So we recognise it, the newspapers write about it but still we do nothing about it …….

PS As Alcohol Awareness Week begins today I will be posting a daily blog post for the next 7 days.  This is to support this important week and also to clear a backlog of content I’ve got going on too!! 🙂

FIA president under fire for failure to ban alcohol sponsorship in Formula One

Sorry for squeezing another post in this week but I saw this headline and felt compelled to include it quickly as it follows up on a blog post I wrote at the end of October about the backing of a responsible driving campaign by a booze brand which you can read here.

My highlights from the Telegraph article:

FIA position themselves as ambassadors of road safety but this has incensed the road safety lobby and anti-alcohol bodies, given F1’s association with alcohol brands

It has been a bumper year for alcohol advertising in Formula One, with the return of Martini to Williams in a deal worth around £10 million, and the announcement of Johnnie Walker as the official whisky supplier of the championship. McLaren also have Johnnie Walker on the side of their car, which is thought to bring £15 million a year. Smirnoff signed an agreement with Force India in May.

Jean Todt and the FIA have consistently positioned themselves as ambassadors of road safety, with the former Ferrari team principal having one eye on a possible job at the United Nations. But this has incensed the road safety lobby and anti-alcohol bodies, given F1’s association with alcohol brands.

In a move reminiscent of the public campaign which was fought before tobacco sponsorship was banned in the 2000s, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) has written an open letter to Todt, asking for a meeting and “rapid action” from the Frenchman.

Mariann Skar, the secretary general of the body, wrote: “When considering the continued destructive prevalence of drink-driving, permitting the mixed messages presented in alcohol sponsorship of Formula One seems ever more inappropriate given the total viewing audience of 500 million.

The alliance of 57 public health bodies across 25 European countries added: “[We are] deeply concerned of the heavy marketing exercise seen in Formula 1 and is therefore requesting an urgent change.”

The letter goes on: “Allowing alcohol sponsorship in Formula One seems to contradict many official guidelines for the marketing of alcohol. It runs against the EU Directive which states that marketing for the consumption of alcohol should not be linked to driving.

“Moreover, the current association between alcohol and driving does not seem to fall in the category of ‘the widespread promotion of responsible drinking messages’, part of the mission supported by the alcohol industry itself.”

France has already banned alcohol sponsorship, while a leaked Labour Party document suggested they will look to do the same if they win power next May.

Sometimes I write a blog post here and feel like a ranting loony as my view seems so at odds with how news is presented.  It is so heartening to read that I am not some fringe nutter but that many others share the same view and are trying to do something about it! 🙂

Maybe change is afoot …….

Dad’s letter to daughter who drank herself to death at just 24

Jim Thomson penned the heart-rending letter to his daughter Leigh which was published by The Daily Record.

DEAR Leigh,

We are all so sorry to have lost you – especially at such a young age. We think of you each and every day. A father should never outlive his daughter – it’s not the way things are supposed to be.

We lost you in August – you would have been 25 soon, your birthday is on Halloween. I know I won’t see you again although I still cannot quite believe it. Your absence leaves a hole that cannot be filled.

You were a bright, bubbly girl with so much life and love in you. You had the world at your feet. You wanted to go to America, travel on Route 66 and chill out in Hawaii but it was not to be.

I know you tried so hard to stay with us. Your illness meant things were just beyond your control. I just hope that lessons can be learned from your situation. If even one person gets help after this, then your loss has not been in vain.

You had so much to offer but you will live on in our hearts. I will always love you, wherever you are and wherever I am.

Love forever,


She was an ambitious Scots science student who dreamed of travelling the world but drank herself to death at just 24.

Leigh, who died from alcohol-related liver disease, is one of the youngest people in the UK to be killed by drink.

Her addiction to drink led her to consume three litres of cheap cider a day for seven years – despite having already seen alcohol kill her mum in 2009 at just 42.

Leigh Thomson’s grieving dad Jim is now calling for laws to prevent similar tragedies as the number of young people abusing alcohol soars.

In October Drinkwise launched a new advert called Party Fox, where none other than our own wolfie shows up in person!!  The strap-line is ‘It’s time to stop teaching our children to drink’ and goes on to say ‘alcohol advertising and cut price drinks are going straight to children’s heads’ and about keeping booze out of childhood.  I really like this ad 🙂

Edited to correct mistaken identity by me:  Thank you Prim for pointing out that I had confused Drinkwise UK, an independent UK charity based in the Northwest and Drinkwise Australia, an industry charity.  No wonder I experienced so much cognitive dissonance – I’d got it wrong and need to be more thorough in my researching.  Apologies Drinkwise UK!!

Scotland the Brave! Alcohol Policy in Scotland

For those of you interested in the Minimum Unit Pricing issue here is the link to the report produced by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

SHAAP has published a report documenting the full proceedings of the historic event in Brussels on 5th September 2014 when the case for Alcohol Minimum Pricing was made by its supporters. This happens as the European Court of Justice considers its response to the attempts of global alcohol producers, fronted by the Scotch Whisky Association to block the implementation of this legislation.

From Eric Carlin, Director, SHAAP:

This report details what happened when the Scottish health professions joined with around 80 European colleagues and industry representatives to challenge the continued obstruction by global alcohol producers to the implementation of Scotland’s Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy. Legislation to introduce a Minimum Unit Price of 50p was passed without opposition by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012. The legislation has yet to come into force because a consortium of global alcohol producers, fronted
by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), Spirits Europe and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) is fighting its implementation every step of the way. The
fight has moved to Europe where, in the latest stage of the legal battle, written opinions from EU member states may be made to the European Court, with the deadline for this being mid-October 2014.
Changes in the price of alcohol are a key determinant in rates of alcohol harm. In Canada, a 10% increase in average minimum alcohol prices was associated with a 32% reduction in alcohol deaths. Minimum Unit Pricing is within the competence of the Scottish Government to implement as an appropriate Public Health response to a Health crisis. SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) is urging other member states and the European Commission to support the Scottish policy. Minimum Unit Pricing is opposed by a consortium of multi-national alcohol producers who, inaccurately, have tried to frame this as a Health v Industry issue, rather than as a vital life-saving measure.
Twenty Scots die every week because of alcohol and this is why Scotland has acted.
You can also sign the online Declaration of support at:
I have 🙂
And for the Twitteratti the hashtag:  #MUPsaveslives
So by now we should know the outcome …..

Veronica Valli & I (4) ‘A Royal Hangover’

So I’ve sneaked an extra blog post in this week because I’ve been catching up with Veronica again on Skype and I thought you’d like to hear what we discussed.  Here we talk about the upcoming documentary film ‘A Royal Hangover‘ that explores the relationship the British have with binge drinking following Veronica’s attending it’s LA premiere and meeting Arthur Cauty and Gabrielle Weller, it’s Director and Producer.

It’s coming to the UK soon and should be here next month!

Veronica and I will be chatting again two weeks from today and I’ll share it here first 🙂

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280


One million children exposed to alcohol marketing during 2014 World Cup

Reposted from Alcohol Concern and to read the full report, please click here.

Alcohol Concern is asking the government to consider whether the harms outweigh the financial benefits of alcohol marketing in sport. This comes after new research shows that those who watched key World Cup broadcasts, which included millions of children and young people, saw one example of alcohol marketing for each minute of football playing time and around 10 alcohol commercials.

In a report launched today by Alcohol Concern, new figures show that during six World Cup matches – including three England games – there were 585 alcohol promotional references, with official sponsor Budweiser beer unsurprisingly having the greatest volume of marketing.

In addition, around 10 alcohol adverts were screened during the commercials breaks for each programme. The viewing audience of children and young people under-18-years-old topped one million for three of the six games reviewed.

Tom Smith, Programme Policy Manager at Alcohol Concern, said: “Alcohol marketing is linked to consumption, particularly in under-18s. The volume of alcohol marketing in sport, especially in football which is popular with children and younger people, is enormous.

 “Sport should inspire active participation and good health, not more drinking. To protect the younger generation the government needs to implement the phased removal of alcohol marketing from sport, as it has done with tobacco.

“If a million children can be exposed to alcohol marketing on TV and no rules be broken, we should also look at whether the existing rules that are meant to protect our kids are really working.”

I have nothing to add personally as this says it all.  This needs to change.

Edited to add:

PS You can always rely on South Park to call it like it is warning: adult language 😉 😀

PPS In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers he mentions the ‘10,000-Hour Rule’ whereby the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.  So today I have practiced 10,000 hours sober 😉